Authorities in southern Australia have killed about 700 koalas in a move aimed at controlling their population and its starvation problem.
On Wednesday, Victorian Environment Minister Lisa Neville said a total of 686 koalas were euthanized in the state of Victoria’s Cape Otway area by wildlife experts during 2013 and 2014.
“It is clear it’s an overpopulation issue and it is clear that we have had koalas suffer in that Cape Otway area because of ill health and starvation,” the minister said, adding that “the intervention was necessary to prevent suffering of koalas because they weren’t able to find enough food.”
According to Neville, Koala population densities are reaching up to about 20 animals per hectare.
She further said that the relocation of the koalas has shown to be ineffective in the past and “can in fact cause even greater suffering.”
Meanwhile, head of the Bimbi Park Caravan Park at Cape Otway, Frank Fotinas, said many of the furry animals were sick or dying from starvation and the area “smelled of dead koalas.”
A Koala management program is expected to be put in place for the native animals.
Koalas have been threatened by factors such as habitat loss, disease, and bush fires in Australia.
Although it has been said that the number of Koalas in Australia exceeded 10 million before British settlers arrived in 1788, official estimates show that there are currently less than 100,000.
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